This post comes to us from talkingfish.org, a project of the Conservation Law Foundation and other sustainable seafood partners around New England.
TalkingFish.org: You are known for your commitment to local and sustainable food. Tell us about your philosophy regarding seafood.
Jeremy Sewall: These days there is nothing simple about seafood, but I try to keep it that way when it comes to my philosophy. I prefer to go local, and I try to buy fish as close to the source as I can. The restaurants have a great network of aquaculturists, fishermen and vendors who we work with who help us get great local fish throughout the year. We do venture throughout the country for great seasonal seafood, such as softshell crabs in the spring and wild salmon as well. I always start with quality—that is the number one factor for me.
TF: What seafood questions do you get most often from your customer?
JS: The word “sustainable” comes up often, and people also ask about the health of eating certain kinds of fish. We try to have all the information that people need when they want it; staff training is a big part of what we do. We always have answers ready, but most of the time people are here just to have a great dining experience.
TF: How do you balance offering something fresh and local against having customer favorites always on hand?
JS: It’s tough. We print the menu daily, which means that just because we had it yesterday doesn’t guarantee it is available today. We have found that people are excited to try new things, and we are lucky that people have come to trust us when it comes to seafood.
TF: You might be aware that a new management system went into effect a year and a half ago for bottom dwelling species like cod, haddock, flounder and pollock – New England best sellers. Over the past year and a half, have you noticed any changes that have affected your business? E.g. In how much seafood is available, price fluctuations, diversity of species, size of fish?
JS: Like everyone, I have had to adjust to what I can get. There is always going to be a demand for species such as cod, haddock and flounder, and when there is little or no fish, the prices go up considerably. I have had to look into alternate species of fish that are of great quality and not priced so high that we would have to pass the cost on to the guest. It has been and will always continue to be a balancing act between what is available and what is reasonable to put on a menu. I think some species probably need a break from the levels at which they are harvested, but that does put pressure on other fish. There is no simple answer to this complex problem.
TF: Would you like to share a recipe featuring a New England seafood item?
Spicy Steamed Littleneck Clams
Serves about 4
24 littleneck clams, washed well
1/4 cup Pretty Things or similar beer
4 oz butter, soft
Juice and zest 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
Pinch of salt and black pepper
4 slices grilled bread
1. Mix the butter with the lemon and cayenne; leave cold.
2. Add the clams and beer to a sauce pan and cover; let steam until the clams start to open.
3. When the clams are open, remove to a serving bowl, keeping the liquid in the pan.
4. Whisk the butter into the hot liquid; add chive, salt and pepper.
5. Pour the liquid over the clams and serve with the grilled bread.